BARBARA Robson, whose funeral was held last Friday, was the widow of one of the best and most colourful footballers Darlington ever had.

We’d written about her, and about Lance, her husband, in 2008. “We had our blazing rows,” said Barbara, “but beneath that exterior he was the kindest, sweetest and most generous of men. It doesn’t matter what other teams’ supporters said, there was no getting away from that”.

Lance was a part-time footballer, full-time dentist. “Thermal Lance”, the sports pages would have called him these days.

They met on a blind date, four of them at the Black Bull, in Moulton.

“It might as well have been two, because I only had eyes for him,” said Barbara. They married eight months later.

Lance hit 73 goals in 235 first team appearances for the Quakers. Barbara never missed a match, home or away, equally familiar with her husband around the town’s night spots, too. The life and soul of the party, it’s recalled.

He was also a highly regarded dentist. “Brilliant, absolutely brilliant,” said Barbara. “I’ve known nervous patients come in and by the end he was dancing around the room with them. Because he played football, people would even want to come to the dentist. He couldn’t walk down the street without people talking football or teeth.”

Until quite recently, Barbara still worked as a receptionist at the dental practice run by one of their sons, another Lance. A lovely lady, she was 76.

Bob Sharpe’s Darlington career was very much briefer than Lance Robson’s. Transferred from Raith Rovers in 1952, he made only 14 full back appearances, but never again left the town. “Smashing feller,” says Quakers legend Ron Greener, who turned 80 in January. Bob worked for Skipper’s garage and as a friendly taxi driver. We interviewed him in 1994, full of warmth for the folk of Darlington. His funeral was on the same day as Barbara Robson’s; he was 88.

THE unexpected death on Tuesday of RMT union leader Bob Crow stirred affectionate memories for Alan Morland, in Shildon.

Ten years ago, Alan helped run Shildon Railway FC, then nearing its 50th birthday. “None outside the town was particularly interested and few inside it, to be honest,” he recalls.

Alan wrote to Crow, reminded him that Shildon had been “callously wiped off the British Rail Engineering map”, asked for a message of support from the union.

Crow replied personally, knew every detail of the wagon works and their demise, pledged to come personally to congratulate the club on its milestone. He did, brought an RMT football team, played himself, enthusiastically joined the dinner that evening.

The following season the club hit serious financial difficulty. Alan again contacted Crow and received a “sizeable” RMT donation, almost by return. Again, the RMT football team was drawn together, again enjoyed the dinner, have returned annually ever since. The next, sold out, is on March 22.

Now scouting for Newcastle United, Alan Morland speaks as he finds.

“The portrait of Bob Crow in the media is harsh and untrue. It’s not a political endorsement by any means, but I just asked him to help the lads from Shildon. He promised he would, and he did.”

LAST week’s column wondered if Joe and Jack Kasher were brothers. The former was familiar with Sunderland, and others, after the First World War; the latter won an Amateur Cup medal with Bishop Auckland in 1921.

Shaking a few family trees, Paul Dobson and Geoff Carr separately agree that they weren’t – “probably cousins”, says Geoff.

Joe was one of ten siblings from Willington. Jack, at the time of the 1911 census, was living at the George Inn, in Coundon Gate, near Bishop Auckland, where his father was landlord. The question of whatever happened to the George Inn started another train, or tram, of thought.

The only reference that Geoff can find is from the London Gazette of November 24, 1903, a detailed planning application for the Shildon, Bishop Auckland and Spennymoor Tramway. The proposed tramway – Geoff suspects that it was overtaken by the petrol engine – even went to Westerton, that hilltop hamlet between Bishop and Spennymoor.

Had they ever tried walking up that bank, much less howking a tramcar? That may have been the original Westerton folly.

THE same piece asked, and not for the first time, why part of Coundon is called Tottenham.

Paul Dobson – “ancestry hat on” – tackles that one, too.

It’s been there a long time, the original Tottenham terraces built to service Leasingthorne Colliery when it opened in 1836.

There was already a Tottenham House and, just along the road, there still is.

“Ham” means homestead.

Toten, says Paul, was probably the owner’s name or a corruption of it. Though there appears no connection with an inferior football team in north London, Paul wins his spurs, anyway.

...and finally, last week’s column invited the identity of the three players in Manchester City’s Capital One Cup final starting XI who, individually, cost more than the £27,280,000 for which Sunderland bought their team.

They were Fernandhino (£35,200,000), Dzeko (£32,560,000) and Aguero (£39,600,000).

Readers are today invited to identify the only footballer on the sleeve cover of the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper album.

What goes around, the column returns next week.